Saturday, 22 February 2014

Three appearings of our Lord Jesus in Hebrews

I am sure these thoughts will probably not be new to most people but as I have been looking at Hebrews recently I was reminded of these thoughts and thought I would share them here with you now. Here is the section I have been interested in:

Hebrews 9:24-28  For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

I have been enjoying thinking of these in the following way; PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE.

PAST - There can be no doubting the fact that as verse 26 states, Christ has appeared in order to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. This is incredible and should thrill us and encourage us as we live our lives for him! There was a time when God came down into this world, as a man amongst men! Great is the mystery of godliness (1 Tim 3:16) that God was manifest in the flesh... this indeed should never cease to amaze us! Our verse in Hebrews however tells us the reason why he came, to put away sin. Other verses reinforce this mission, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15) and indeed this was the reason for this first appearing - so that he might deal with the question of sin and make a way of salvation for us. As the verse tells us though, it involved the sacrifice of himself! Remember that the sacrifices of old were all about the shedding of blood, in order to answer the claims of God against sin. Leviticus 17:11 tells us that it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul, and so it is with the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Of course the difference between these sacrifices is made clear in our verses, he only needed to appear ONCE to put away sin, this is a once and forever final act that does not need to be ever repeated! We are reminded again of the superiority of our Lord Jesus Christ and the perfect completeness of that work on the cross.

PRESENT - The great news for the believer is that today the Lord Jesus lives and is in the presence of God where he ever lives to make intercession for us (Romans 8:34), what a wonderful truth is this! Even today he is concerned with us, his people. This is his great occupation now, he appears in the presence of God on our behalf, where he gives us grace to help us in time of need and presents our prayers before God for us. Hebrews teaches us that he is our Great High Priest, and we should look through this book to learn more about what that means, it will certainly encourage us! I also find it lovely to think that our Saviour has passed into heaven itself, into the presence of God the place from where he had came. He returned home! He tells us in John 14 that he is preparing a place for us, those who have trusted in him for salvation, his blood-bought people.

FUTURE - I like that the Word of God distinguishes this third appearing from the other two. Not now is he appearing to deal with sin (like in the first) or to carry our burdens or intercede for us (as in the second), but now he appears to bring to full salvation those who are looking for and expecting the imminent return of the Lord Jesus. I certainly believe that this is referring to the Rapture, or the second coming of Christ, as outlined in 1 Thess 4:16-17 and as the lord himself promised in John 14:3. There is lots to cheer the believer here, as we have this lovely promise brought before us again - our future is with him! He is coming to take us home to be with him, surely there can be no better prospect than this?! Remember the words of Paul that he desired to be with Christ which is far better... We have a challenge here as well though, as the words in the AV rendered look for him should better read eagerly, constantly and patiently waiting for and expecting Him (AMP)... I wonder if we are truly marked by that eager expectancy, or by that daily state of mind that looks forward to his second appearing? This has been an immense challenge to me, as all too often the daily grind of life and the distractions of the world can easily overcome our spiritual vision and focus. Let us be challenged once again and set our lives in order, in accordance with that truth, that Christ is coming again, and quickly!

I trust that these few simple thoughts will be a blessing, challenge and encouragement to us all.

Yours in Christ, Mark.

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